Family’s trauma after tot’s grave is stripped bare

A GRIEVING mother has told of her fury after the grave of her baby boy was ‘stripped bare’ of all its decorations.

Ben and Hannah Tate and son Casper, aged ten months
Ben and Hannah Tate and son Casper, aged ten months

Since 2013, Hannah Tate and her partner Ben Cottage have been lovingly tending the burial plot of their baby son Grayson – who was stillborn – at St Mary Magdalene, in Lyminster.

However, this week they revealed how church staff removed a teddy, two solar lights and a series of ornamental decorations and rocks, leaving the plot bare.

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Ms Tate, formerly of Aspen Close, Littlehampton, but who now lives in Chichester, said: “It is just horrendous.

The family by the grave of baby Grayson

“We are still mourning our son given the fact he hasn’t even been buried two years yet, and each time his items are removed it reminds us of the day he was buried.”

She added: “He is a baby. It’s not like he is taking up much room. Everyone always said how nice it looked. It’s just really disheartening.”

The Rev John Quigley broke the news to the parents in April and they have been fighting ever since to be allowed to decorate Grayson’s grave again.

Ms Tate, 25, who has a ten-month-old son, Casper, said she had been told that the decorations were against the church’s regulations.

“I’m just disgusted that a man of God could do that,” she said.

Ms Tate, who works at Tesco, in Chichester, added that this situation was causing her additional stress.

“I’m pregnant again and this really isn’t helping,” she said.

She added she had chosen to have Grayson buried in Lyminster because it was where her grandad and uncle had been laid to rest.

She said she would try to approach the new bishop of Arundel and Brighton, appealing for change.

The Gazette approached Mr Quigley for a comment but he was away on holiday.

However, in an email written to Ms Tate and seen by the Gazette, he explained that he had attempted to contact the family on several occasions.

In the email, he said: “I’m saddened that you are so distressed.

“However, I have written to you, spoken to you personally, warned you of what was going to happen, called to see you in Chichester by arrangement, only to find you were not available. Neither you nor Ben were able to pick up a phone and let me know to save me the journey.”

He added he was disappointed by this but said he was ‘very ready’ to meet with the family in an effort to resolve the situation.